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Richmond Progressive Alliance

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Richmond Progressive Alliance
FounderGayle McGalughlin
Area served
United States

The Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) is a community/political group in Richmond, western Contra Costa County, California, United States. It's mission is the united the left regardless of political party and was founded Gayle McGlaughlin and Marylyn Langlois.[1][2] by It supports various community efforts including campaigns to force the local Chevron refinery to pay higher taxes and reduce pollution; opposition to racial profiling; and opposition to urban casino development in Point Molate. It supports candidates for the nonpartisan races in the city. It calls itself the organization of progressive politics. Its members include voters registered in the Democratic, Green, and other parties as well as independents. During the 2000s and 2010s the alliance transformed the politics of the city of Richmond banishing Chevron's control over local government and solidifying itself as a force to be reckoned with.[3] When interviewed McGlaughlin stated that the RPA was designed as, "an umbrella organization to bring together Greens, progressive Democrats, libertarians, Peace and Freedom Party members and others who are concerned about Richmond community affairs."[4] The RPA is credited with "extracting" US$ 114 million dollars on one occasion and another 90 million on a second occasion to fund social programs.[5]

Andrés Soto[edit]

Andrés Soto[6]) is an environmentalist and activist from Richmond, part of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, which he help found.[7][8] He works for Communities for a Better Environment and is a critic of the pollution caused by the Chevron Richmond Refinery.[9]

In 1973 he graduated from Richmond High School.[10]

He criticized the notion that the Richmond Refinery brings jobs to Richmond with the statistic that only 5% of its employees are Richmond residents in 2012.[11]

He lobbied for Chevron to financially support struggling Doctors Medical Center in 2014 unsuccessfully, citing that it was a backbone for treatment during the refinery's periodic chemical spills.[12]

In 2016 he was campaigning for lower refinery emissions.[13]

In the year 2018 he opposed the settlement that went on to approve a master planned community at the former Point Molate Naval Fuel Depot.[14] Also in that year he opposed the exporting of coal and petcoke to Latin American and Asian markets through the Port of Richmond noting boxcars full of the stuff parked alongside the Richmond BART station.[15]

In 2019 he supported banning the transport of coal from Utah to the Levin Terminal for export due to off gassing from coal dust and its potential harm to the community.[16] He also criticized the Richmond City Council of being too close to Big Oil.[17] Furthermore he has stated that there is too much pollution located in toxic pockets of Pittsburg, California which he believes are associated with high levels of asthma an cardiovascular disease intersected with a community of African Americans and Latinx Americans living in poverty.[18]

He has stated that, "I grew up in Richmond, so I have seen where the money from these corporations has polluted our politics for generations".[19] He also stated in that year that he was unware of their being a safe level of exposure to petcoke regardless of the Chevron Richmond Refinery being a "gold star refiner".[20]

2004 through 2006[edit]

In the 2004 election Gayle McLaughlin won the race for a city council seat in Richmond while Andrés Soto lost his bid for city council and Leonard McNeil won his campaign for San Pablo mayor, all running as part of the Richmond Progressive Alliance.

In 2005 the RPA supported transfer of the former Zeneca site at Campus Bay to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.[21]

2006 through 2008[edit]

Gayle McLaughlin election poster.jpg

In 2006 Gayle McLaughlin won the election for mayor as a Green Party member versus incumbent Democrat Irma Anderson by 189 votes out around 12,000 cast.[4] Jim Jenkins lost his bid for the Richmond city council.

2008 through 2010[edit]

Measure T a ballot measure submitted to the voters that substantially increased business license fees for large corporations like Chevron Corporation owner of the Chevron Richmond Refinery passed. Jovanka Beckles ran for city council of Richmond and lost while Jeff Ritterman won his city council bid. Another ballot measure, Measure U, in favor of casinos, like the one proposed for the former Point Molate Naval Fuel Depot was successfully defeated at the ballot box.

2010 through 2012[edit]

In 2010 the RPA negotiated with Chevron to contribute millions of dollars for the city to reinvest in itself instead of facing Measure T which would have forced a change in the utility tax which would have made them potentially contribute more.[22] In this same year Gayle McLaughlin won re-election as Richmond mayor. Jovanka Beckles in her second bid for Richmond city council won while Eduardo Martinez lost his second attempt at a spot on the Richmond city council. The RPA took a beating in this election as it was flooded by 1.2 million US dollars from Chevron and 2.7 million from the American Beverage Association against measure N a sugar tax and its candidates.[23]

2012 through 2014[edit]

In the 2012 election Marilyn Langlois ran for city council and lost as did Eduardo Martinez on his third bid. This while Dr. Jeff Ritterman's brainchild Measure N, a tax on sugary drinks, lost amid massive campaigning for the bottling industry to counter support for it.

2014 election through 2016[edit]

In 2014 Mike Parker ran for mayor but withdrew in favor of Tom Butt in order to not splinter the progressive vote in the moderate-progressive divide of the city's politics. Tom Butt, the RPA's candidate went on to face Nat Bates and won. Eduardo Martinez ran for city council yet again and won this year, while former mayor Gayle McLaughlin won her old council seat and Jovanka Beckles won re-election. In 2014 Chevron spent US$ 3 million on a slate of candidates for city council none of which beat the grassroots candidates of the RPA which some have said saved Richmond's fortunes although Tom Butt says it involved collaboration between many stakeholders and was not that simple.[24]

2016 through 2018[edit]

In 2016 Ben Choi attempted to gain a seat on the Richmond city council as did Melvin Willis and both won. In 2018 Jack Wear described the group as narcissistic while the Richmond Standard likened it to a political cult.[25]

2018 through present[edit]

In 2018 Tom Butt endorsed opponent of the California Progressive Alliance's assembly candidate Jovanka Beckels. The CPA is a statewide offspring of the Richmond Progressive Alliance and the brainchild of Gayle McGlaughlin. Butt's endorsement Buffy Wicks went on to win the race. Butt went on to state that the reason was that he believed Beckels did not think for herself and that the RPA candidates rarely stray from the "party line". Jesse Arreguin the mayor of Berkeley said in her defense that she is an "atypical politician".[26] Wicks was said to beat Beckels at the RPA's "own game, grassroots organizing" and she did it 56 to 44%.[27] This same election Gayle McGlaughlin ran for California Lt. Governor but lost.[24]

In 2019 mayor Tom Butt blamed the Richmond Progressive Alliance for obstructionism of his choice of appointments to city positions, something usually at the prerogative of the mayor, however he stated that there was a clash between whom he wanted to select for appointments and to the people the RPA wanted.[28]


  1. Taylor, Jr., Otis R. "Marilyn Langlois likely choice for seat on Richmond City Council". 4 September 2017. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  2. Chan, Bonnie (December 2018). "California's Political Revolution". Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  3. Cagle, Susie. "Richmond v Chevron: the California city taking on its most powerful polluter". 9 October 2019. The Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Brenneman, Richard. "Green Candidate's Lead for Richmond Mayor Grows". 17 November 2006. The Berkeley Daily Planet. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  5. Richman, Shaun. "In These Times". InTheseTimes.com. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  6. How a cop’s blows turned Richmond’s Andres Soto into a climate activist, Heather Smith, Grist.org
  7. Richmond delays coal decision, San Jose Mercury News
  8. Richmond v Chevron: the California city taking on its most powerful polluter, TheGuardian.com
  9. Richmond Brings Air Pollution Control To The People, Brett Simpson, KALW
  10. A TOXIC TOUR WITH TALES OF RESILIENCE, Steve Early, BeyondChron.org
  11. Chevron Oil Refinery Fire in Richmond, California Forces Over 900 Residents to Hospitals, DemocracyNow
  12. Chevron must replace pipes at Richmond refinery, purchase supplies for Richmond Fire Department: EPA settlement, Ravleen Kaur, Ricmhond Confidential
  13. Environmental activist takes on Big Oil, Karina Ioffee, East Bay Times
  14. Dissension grows among RPA supporters over councilwoman’s ‘egregious violation’ on Point Molate vote, Barbara Harvey, Richmond Confidential
  15. While Oakland Is Worried About Getting Coal, Richmond Is Covered in It, Janis Hashe, East Bay Express
  16. Bay Area port city remains undecided on proposal that would disrupt Utah coal exports, The Salt Lake Tribune
  17. City council tightens vaping regulations over health concerns, Aaron Leathley and Victoria Dmitrieva, Richmond Confidential
  18. Suit accuses Pittsburg chemical plant of 5 years of hazardous-waste violations, Michael Cabanatuan, San Francisco Chronicle
  19. Whistleblowers Claim Bay Area Air Quality Management District Improperly Disposed Of Records, KPIX
  20. California gas prices spike after refinery problems, Sophia Kunthara, San Francisco Chronicle
  21. Brenneman, Richard. "Legislation, Protest Target Richmond Sites". 22 April 2005. The Berkeley Daily Planet. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  22. "Richmond and Chevron Reach Agreement". 10 May 2010. The Berkeley Daily Planet. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  23. Geluardi, John. "Can Richmond Progressives Regroup?". 12 December 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Taylor, Jr., Otis R. "Richmond's Gayle McLaughlin running for lieutenant governor". 17 July 2016. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  25. Butt, Tom. "Activist splits from RPA, describes 'narcissistic' leadership". 25 April 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  26. Veklerov, Kimberley. "In East Bay Assembly race, differences in approach overshadow agreement on policy". 13 October 2018. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  27. Taylor, Jr., Otis R. "Buffy Wicks' experience running others' campaigns pays off with her Assembly win". 12 November 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  28. Ravani, Sarah. "Richmond mayor, council clash over appointments to police commission". 32 May 2018. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 30 December 2019.

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